My childhood home was much like a boarding house with a revolving door. It seemed like someone new was constantly crossing our threshold for a long stay, making it their “home” too. As one would leave, another would soon follow. This went on for most of my life.
My mom was legendary for her open-door policy. Her heartfor the “less than,” wayward souls was something to be admired, even emulated. I’ll admit that I inherited her heart for those who are marginalized but not enough to have them move in for the long haul. It takes a special kind of person to do that.
Or does it?
Recently I was chatting with my six-year-old granddaughter, Scarlett, about those that Jesus calls “less than.” We talked about people with special needs and those we volunteer to feed at our local homeless shelter. Our deep conversation ventured to complicated topics such as refugees and racism. While her immature brain is too young to grasp the many political issues that stem from these subjects, her big heart easily understands the simple commandment to “love others.”
Standing at the kitchen island we continued our chat while baking cookies. Licking her sugary little fingers, she mentions that she is learning about God’s Commandments in school.“That’s terrific,” I say. “Tell me more.” Wide-eyed and grinning she says, “Jesus says there are two rules that are really important – to love God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind... And the second one is: to love your neighbor as yourself.” (Matthew 12:30-31).
I smile that proud grandma smile and tell her she is right. “It’s simple, Booga (this is the name Scarlett gave me when she was beginning to talk. It stuck. Anyhoo…). there are only two rules that are the most important.” I agree with a resounding, “Yes lil’ ma’am!”
Yes, simple. Easy? Not a chance.
What challenges me most about the “Greatest Commandment” is that it covers ALL – the unlovable, crass, rude, and arrogant – the busybody neighbor, the know-it-all relative, the unfair boss, the drunkard, and homeless.
The commandment also includes the rich as well as the poor, the privileged as well as the marginalized. All skin colors and every race. Even the communist, socialist, capitalist, and refugee. ALL literally means, “ALL,” and that my friends is the crux of our problem. It’s an impossible commandment, because like another child I know says, “I have only four people in my family and sometimes it’s hard to love all of them.”
But…“Love is patient, love is kind.” Love has a long fuse. Love welcomes. Love is humble and sacrificial. Love is goodand gentle, joyful and peaceful. Love is a verb but it is also a name, and its name is – Jesus.
The fact is, if we are not IN Christ we cannot love rightly, which is why the world is in a perpetual state of chaos.
Most see “love and kindness” as a feeling, and feelings are fleeting. But “love and kindness,” according to Christ requires action, regardless of how we feel in the moment. For example, the world says “An eye for an eye,” but Jesus says, “Give him the other cheek too,” and while you’re at it “cut off your hand and gouge out your eye.” Say what? Yep. Radical isn’t it? That’s because Jesus is a maverick, and what He says about “love and kindness” is in direct opposition to what the world says.
You see, Jesus isn’t so much a ruler follower as he is a grace-giver and love-lavisher. It is this kind of crazy talk that led Him to Calvary.
Read His Word.
Then do it, but don’t go alone. Take Jesus with you, and He will teach you how. “It’s simple,” love others and be kind. In short, be like Jesus. You can do it.
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